Elusive secrets of success

People often ask me how they can become better chess players. I tell them it's important to play a lot (for instance on chess.com's live server!) and read chess books - simply enjoy working on your chess.

But I find my answer to be very superficial, and it doesn't really pinpoint any definite answer. There are two reasons for that: Everyone is different, so it's impossible for me to know what will work for you. But even more importantly; I don't actually know the secret to success! I have had many successes, but I'm not sure what of my training the last 10 years has made me able to achieve what I have achieved.

Still, what I do know is that I enjoy success when it comes, and in this blog post I'm going to write about my win at the 30th Andorra Open, held in July.

Just before the tournament, I had played in the Norwegian Championship. I was a heavy favorite, but I couldn't produce my best chess and finished 3rd. Why would Andorra be anything different? I don't know, but luckily it was!

Getting a good start attributes to boosting your confidence and adjusting to the new surroundings. My start was near perfect!

As if this first game wasn't enough, my second round game was also a miniature win. My opponent blundered early on. Can you find black's best move?

A fantastic start to be sure! I felt so good that I participated with some friends in the 5-a-side soccer tournament held the morning of the 3rd round. We won the tournament - which was definitely a good omen for what was to come. I even scored the important 3-2 leading goal in the final!

Photo from the official tournament site. Team Penderghast (in honor of Emma Stone) left to right: David Berczes, John Castro, Romain Lambert, my room mate Nicolai Getz and yours truly.
That afternoon, I faced my first GM opponent.
So after three rounds I had taken the lead with 3/3. I drew my 4th round game and won my 5th (barely). This meant I held the lead going into the 6th round. That's a good time to play what I feel was my best game of the tournament!
I drew all my last three games. That meant I finished on 7/9 together with my opponents from the last three games! I had a shared lead for the duration of the tournament, and that's why all my tiebreaks were superior to that of my challengers.
This tournament had a best game prize, but to win it you had to submit your games with annotations. All the games in this blog were submitted for the best game prize, but alas none of them were found worthy. Seeing as how I won the 1st prize, I didn't care too much!

See the winners of the best game prize here.

Lastly I present a hard-fought draw from the 7th round, against the Spanish 2600+ grandmaster Illescas (who came in 3rd place on tiebreaks).


  • vor 4 Jahre


    Mr. Hammer,

    Thank you for posting this most informative article. It is greatly appreciated and was quite insightful indeed.

    In your first game against Picart (2108), you completely overwhelmed him and decimated his defense. It was a stunning onslaught. My only complaint is that your notes seemed to get cut off and therefore, I couldn't fully grasp what you were trying to teach. For instance on move 14...Bf7! You wrote: "according to the computer, this is the only good defensive move, as"

    And that is all that I can see. It stops at "as"....

    Same with move 7. when you castled King-side. You wrote: "White doesn't need to protect the c3-pawn, as it's known that"

    And then the notes get cut-off.

    I really would like to know what you were thinking from your analysis standpoint!

    Thank you kindly.

  • vor 4 Jahre


    One word for sir AWESOME

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Nice games myfriend:)

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Bra innlegg! Takker Cool

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Great post. Thanks!

  • vor 4 Jahre


    I presume Hammer states "can't touch this!" before his games.

  • vor 4 Jahre


    There's no more to fight for, so we agreed to a draw. LOL

  • vor 4 Jahre

    GM SultanOfKings

    @-kenpo- You've noticed my latest attempt at keeping my hair at bay: fibre gel ;)

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Thanks for sharing. Cool games.

  • vor 4 Jahre


    this lesson is very helpful to our game practice...

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Very instructional and nice games!

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Wat a share.. Thanks Sultan

  • vor 4 Jahre

    IM DanielRensch

    Congrats and thanks, Hammer!


  • vor 4 Jahre


    This is very SIMPLE.Answer-GOOD EMOTIONS!Wink 

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Very instructional and nice games!

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Please Hammer, don't hurt 'em. 

  • vor 4 Jahre


    very nice

  • vor 4 Jahre


    Great games!Smile

  • vor 4 Jahre

    IM dpruess

    fantastic! thanks for sharing :)

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